Patrick A. Heelan Georgetown University

  • Faculty, Georgetown University

Areas of specialization

Areas of interest

My philosophical views


My philosophical views

The answers shown here are not necessarily the same provided as part of the 2009 PhilPapers Survey. These answers can be updated at any time.

See also:

A priori knowledge: yes or no?The question is too unclear to answerAll human knowledge emerges from experience and tradition which are a priori and learned; the principles of meaning-construction, -testing, and -applying may also be a priori but transcendental.
Abstract objects: Platonism or nominalism?The question is too unclear to answerThe basic question is : how are abstract objects constituted from experienced particulars? How do particulars relate to abstract concepts? There is much to be learned from the sciences about this.
Aesthetic value: objective or subjective?The question is too unclear to answerValue is clearly both a quality within the world (objective?) and a quality that we and society respond to (subjective?). The question needs to be framed better.
Analytic-synthetic distinction: yes or no?The question is too unclear to answerThis is kind of question puts philosophy into a straight jacket as if it were one of the natural sciences.
Epistemic justification: internalism or externalism?Insufficiently familiar with the issueIs this a version of the Mind-Body question? Or is it a version of physicalism/non-physicalism?
External world: idealism, skepticism, or non-skeptical realism?The question is too unclear to answerThe notion of 'world' is far too complex to be described preferentially by any "-ism"; the three theories given above are three instruments for different analyzes that do not exhaust possible philosophical interest in the world
Free will: compatibilism, libertarianism, or no free will?The question is too unclear to answerSo far, all the questions are specific to certain contents of discourse, that omit much that may be relevant to any genuine philosophical discourse.
God: theism or atheism?The question is too unclear to answerWhat meaning is attached to "God"? The answer depends on the genre of discourse about (what is being referred to as) "God".
Knowledge: empiricism or rationalism?The question is too unclear to answerNeither or both - depending on the philosophical discourse; the characteristics of knowledge go far beyond rationlism and empiricism.
Knowledge claims: contextualism, relativism, or invariantism?The question is too unclear to answerKnowledge is hermeneutical, i.e., interpretative, and the context of the discourse, as well as the relative invariance of the concepts used is important much else omitted from the list.
Laws of nature: Humean or non-Humean?Other
Logic: classical or non-classical?Accept bothClassical logic has its contextual limits of applicability; most ordinary discourse, as well as the languages about the micro- as well as the cosmological world are non-classical.
Mental content: internalism or externalism?Insufficiently familiar with the issue"Mental content", I assume, is a reaching out cognitively to the world. This involves 'representations' that are both 'external to' what is represented, and internal to the act of representation.
Meta-ethics: moral realism or moral anti-realism?The question is too unclear to answerIf the 'real' is the world we live in, the 'moral' has to be a function of the 'real' as humans live in it.
Metaphilosophy: naturalism or non-naturalism?Accept bothWhich is appropriate depends on the purpose and genre of the discourse
Mind: physicalism or non-physicalism?Accept bothAccept both, answer depends on the genre of the discourse
Moral judgment: cognitivism or non-cognitivism?The question is too unclear to answerMoral judgment can be analyzed cognitively and non-cognitively, each is viable, and which is the more relevant depends on the genre of discourse.
Moral motivation: internalism or externalism?The question is too unclear to answerClearly a sense of morality is both acquired by living in a community and a matter of personal choice about how one relates to society and the world around.
Newcomb's problem: one box or two boxes?Insufficiently familiar with the issue
Normative ethics: deontology, consequentialism, or virtue ethics?The question is too unclear to answerThere is clearly room for all three; which to use will depend on the context of the discourse.
Perceptual experience: disjunctivism, qualia theory, representationalism, or sense-datum theory?Insufficiently familiar with the issueThe "-isms" worries me, because they assume that that there is only one kind of philosophical discourse about perception; this is the weakness of analytic philosophy
Personal identity: biological view, psychological view, or further-fact view?The question is too unclear to answerPersonal identity involves all three and more; which is relevant depends on the genre of discourse
Politics: communitarianism, egalitarianism, or libertarianism?The question is too unclear to answerThese three terms are instruments useful for the analysis of any particular socio-political situation;but they are just useful instruments, not Truth!
Proper names: Fregean or Millian?The question is too unclear to answerThe context of this question is too limited to be of much philosophical interest
Science: scientific realism or scientific anti-realism?The question is too unclear to answerIf "reality" is the ontology of the world we live in,and since this is socio-historical in nature (otherwise, we don't know what we are talking about), then scientific phenomena are real in this sense .. and not in an "-ism" sense.
Teletransporter (new matter): survival or death?Accept: survivalBut will our survival be in space and time? Or be like a photon timeless?
Time: A-theory or B-theory?The question is too unclear to answerI am not sure what the context of this question is; of course classical and quantum mechanics, insofar as they are theories, can both be correctly used but only in different contexts of discourse and use.
Trolley problem (five straight ahead, one on side track, turn requires switching, what ought one do?): switch or don't switch?The question is too unclear to answer
Truth: correspondence, deflationary, or epistemic?The question is too unclear to answerTruth (other than formal truth of math, etc.)cannot be separated from values and action ... and therefore context of practice.
Zombies: inconceivable, conceivable but not metaphysically possible, or metaphysically possible?Insufficiently familiar with the issueThe possibility and non-possibility of Zombies concern evolution and cultural development that involve changes unanticipated (whether as possible or not) changes in the world we live in.